Abstract Details

Vocational Training And Games

Background: Embedding entrepreneurship into education has received much recent attention, with benefits including economic growth, job creation and increased societal resilience. Other advantages including Individual growth, increased school engagement and improved equality have been highlighted. Challenges to achieving this vision include lack of time and resources, teachers’ fear of commercialism, impeding educational structures, assessment difficulties and lack of definitional clarity.

The EU Erasmus+ VESVET project (2018-1-LT01-KA202-047072) aims to address some of these challenges by fostering VET students’ employability by enhancing their entrepreneurship competences. This is achieved by modelling situations using gamified set of tasks in various practice situations, to increase entrepreneurship skills and to adapt to the real demands of companies and enterprises.

There are precedents to using serious games to develop such competences. The eSG project uses serious games as a tool to allow technology students to become familiar with the basic concepts of entrepreneurship and company management. This project also defined a set of metrics to evaluate the achievements of students using such games.

The VESVET project builds on such approaches, by co-creating entrepreneurial content with expert trainers, and by harnessing the creative energy of HEI Computer Science students to design and prototype serious games that can act as design inspiration.

Methods: In order to co-create branching storylines, expert trainers in the VESVET partnership worked with computer scientists using Chat Mapper – an easy to use tool for writing and testing nonlinear dialogue and events for fields where complex problems are the normal (in our case e-learning and serious games).

To harness the creative energy of final year HEI Computer Science students, ‘consultants’ from the VESVET project gave an introductory seminar to inspire these students to prototype games, and formative and summative feedback throughout the development process on issues including suitability of the adopted game mechanic to the course content, and accessibility and usability issues.

Results: Co-creation of branching storyline and non-linear dialogue between the VESVET partners is ensuing. Content creators and computer scientists will talk about the challenges and opportunities of this process as part of our talk.

A range of prototype HEI student created serious games were evaluated by course leaders and representative project partners. These conceptual solutions will be explored in greater depth in our talk, but a notable example includes ‘Disciplinary Action’ . Based in an office environment, the game simulates real-life situations using a range of communication styles (aggressive, direct, open and friendly) to allow players to investigate how the adoption of each style influences their employment related outcomes.

Conclusions: Involving both game developers and content creators in the development of branching storylines and non-linear content presents challenges. However, tools exist to aid this process, and co-design will ultimately lead to serious games that have the potential to both engage young learners, and suit the needs of their trainers and teachers. Using HEI Computer Science students to produce conceptual solutions for EU projects benefits both the students themselves, and the project – portfolio pieces for the former, additional outcomes for the latter.

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